Last week, we examined the importance of stretching to prevent injury, the main muscle groups involved, and a sample stretch to use for each. Now, let’s look at some tips that help you get the most from each stretch.


A cold muscle is a stiff muscle. Ever gone for a jog, or played a sport and suddenly felt like someone just stabbed you in the leg? Almost certainly, the working muscle is cold or hasn’t been sufficiently hydrated, causing an involuntary spasm which can be quite painful.

If you workout, warm-up before, and stretch afterwards. Working out just tightens the muscles again, and you will lose most of the benefit.


Much like how we feel in a warm bed on a cold day, our muscles are comfortable where they are, and initially resist our efforts to push them. Hold your stretch until you feel a slight ‘give’ in the muscle, followed by a lessening of pressure. When this happens, stretch it a little further. You may be able to repeat this several times.

Pay attention to your body. If anything other than the stretched muscle feels tight or painful, try another stretch that works the same area. It’s not worth strengthening one part of your body while damaging another part.


Many ballroom dancing stretches can be more effective if you have props to help. For example, rolling a golf ball around the instep (the arch) of your foot, while slightly masochistic, is a great way to massage the bottoms of the feet. This can be substituted for a tennis ball, massage stick, rolling pin, or foam roller (my favourite), and can be applied to a number of areas affected by dancing, including:

The IT Band (I roll it down to just before the knee):

The glutes:

The chest:

The quads:

Consider seeing a sports massage therapist. They can spot tight muscles you haven’t even HEARD of, as well as educate you on prevention strategies.

Next week we enter the home stretch (I’m so funny) where we cover a number of other ballroom dancing stretches you can experiment with, as well as a couple videos you can follow to set up your daily routine.